Mumbai Series: Over a Bottle of Breezer

 

 Note: This post in no way promotes or endorses alcoholism. Now, since I have got that out of the way, I can head on to the real deal.

People’s perception of the way life has to be lived has changed in ways inconceivable to the human mind. In just the last decade, media exposure along with the boom in technological progression has encouraged the ideological amalgamation of the East and the West. Insanely enough, most Indians, teenagers and young adults especially, don’t believe in religious superstitions anymore, which was a huge thing to rave about in the generations before. Rather, today’s generation wants to embrace the adventurous and mysterious life of the West – or the idea of it anyway. That’s ‘orientalism’ in action.

A night ago, I managed to get myself stuck in quite a predicament – a heated “creative discussion” that I refer to as ‘The Battle of the Generations.’ (Mind you this whole conversation was over a bottle of Breezer – a few actually.) During the whole conversation, it hit me hard that the issues faced by both the older as well as the younger generation in India were similarly different. As in the problems faced by each generation were valid and legitimate at that specific time.

The conversation always starts of with, “Aaj kal ke bache kuch bhi value nahi karte…” (The kids of this generation don’t value anything) and the criticism goes on. However, a lot has changed overtime. Like I said, change can be a hard pill to swallow.

It has become evident that individuals today spend their entire lives seeking some kind of validation outside themselves, which perhaps was not the case before. In our grandparents, or even parent’s generation, there was always someone or the other (most often mothers) that offered undivided attention to their child/children. They were like a shield that guided and protected their children from the tempestuous realities of the ‘big bad world’. Now, with both parents having secured a position in the public sphere, this generation finds those same temptations too enticing to deny. Hence, the emotional validation is much needed. Exposure to media and technology play their own role in this. For example: most girls wouldn’t consider themselves to be “beautiful” unless they received a compliment from someone else mentioning that they were or that they weren’t intelligent enough because they didn’t receive straight A’s in their report card.

The other day, I went out to nearby park with my baby cousin brother and his mother. To my surprise all the children at that park had come with their nannies and NOT their parents. There were some children that were being cared for and looked after by the nanny just like how a parent would, while other children were left to do whatever they wanted. It made me realise that acquiring the right type of attention from the parents is absolutely necessary. When a growing child’s expectations are not met they resort to alternate ways to procure that attention. Using social media to fill in the void is just one of the many methods. Interestingly enough, people using social media sites such as Facebook exploit this need for attention. How many likes do you have on your Facebook display picture? How many friends do you have on Facebook? How many people follow you on Twitter? If you can cross a certain number of likes or followers on Facebook/Twitter, you are automatically deemed “popular”.

A child that is starved of love, attention and nurturing often (not always) encounter someone online/offline who is capable of abusing that desire for positive attention. This causes the child to develop insecurities about himself/herself, leaving them emotionally scared and constantly craving for some kind of attention – be it positive or negative. This often initiates rebellious behaviours within a child that later continue for another reason altogether.

The way the world operates today, financially and socially, has completely whittled the equation between a child and his/her parents. Having both parents entering the public sphere is no longer an option; it is an imperative in order to secure the finances of the family along with the future of the child.  As a result, obedience and disobedience have an altered definition. Hence, its not that the ‘kids of today’s generation’ don’t know how to value, its just that they process and conduct things in a completely different way from their parents and grandparents.

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